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immigrants, and my experience is not unique, but there's not a whole lot of awareness or when people talk about immigration, very seldom do they consider, you know, that other side of immigration which is about the children who get left behind who later come to the u.s. to be reunited with their parents, and we don't talk about how immigration breaks up families and how, you know, it takes a toll on the whole family so this is one of the reasons why i wanted to write about this because, you know, it's something that is up -- inexperienced, that scared me, and that shaped me to the woman who i am today. right now, with the dreamers, with the young undocumented people who are fighting to get
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their legal status, i felt it was an important story -- in terms of giving people an insight into what their situation might be like, and i touch upon the fact that, you know, my family benefited from the am nighsty of 1986. i had a green card by the time i was 14 so the moment i got my green card, you know, the whole world opened up to me, and there were so many possibilities that came my way that i was able to jump on because i had a green card, and i really really like to see this happen to the dreamers, you know, for us to give them that chance to pursue their dreams, to give back to society, and pay back the way i was paid back through my writing and all the work i do. i want to see that happen for them. >> host: we have been talking
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with reyna grande, "the dance between us": a memoir," and you're watching booktv on c-span2. biographer hatty recalls the family inharns resulting in $100 million translating to $2.5 billion today. dubbed the witch of wall street for the tough demeanor and frugal lifestyle, she made fortunes going against the popular thinking of investors. this is about a half hour.
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>> about five years ago, a friend suggested that i write about hatty green, and i said who? [laughter] she then told me about her, how she was a financial genius, how she, at the time that she livedded was called "the witch of wall street." i started to read about her, and i thought she was interesting, but finance and wall street, and then it was 2008, and everything changed. the stock market collapsed. real estate prices plunged. we were in a financial panic. i started thinking some more about hetty green, and how she had ser viewfed several financial -- survived several financial crisis in her day. one of the things i look for in
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someone i'm writing about is diaries because, of course, they are so revealing. there were no. diaries. i remember one thing said which was that nice girls keep diaries. bad girls don't have time. [laughter] hetty was bad. [laughter] she was not bad about men, but money. she was consumed by money which was not so dissimilar from the rest of her family. she was born in new bedford, massachusetts, in 1834, to a prosperous family of whaling merchants, and in those days, whale oil fueled the houses and factories, not only here, but around the world, and whale parts were used for perfume, for
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paint, for corsets, for buggy whips, and just about everything in between. her family was extremely prosperous, and they lived then in what was the most prosperous town in america, and they seemed like they embodied, her family embodied, american values. they were hard working. they were rich. they were upstanding citizens. her father supported abraham lincoln later on, and they were spiritual. they were quakers. they had the new england values. the quaker values of thrift to the point of stinginess, particularly her father, and they believed in simplicity and plain living. to them, to the quakers, wealth was a sign of virtue, a sign of god's blessing, and so they were very blessed except that her
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father really wanted a son, and when his first child was born, it was a girl. it was hetty, and he became enraged, furious so much so that her mother took to her bed, and hetty was dismissed from the house before she was 2 yearings old. she was sent to live with her grandfather and her spinster aunt. what she really wanted was her father's love, and she knew that the only way to gain it was to earn it because her father was obsessed with money, and he said so himself. her grandfather taught her to read the newspapers and the business news and the stock and bond prices in the newspapers when she was a little girl. as soon as she could read. at the age of 8, she opened her
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owning the at the -- own account at the savings bank in town. she was then sent off to a quaker boarding school where she was taught about thrift. she was taught to eat whatever is put before her as much mush as it might be, and if she didn't eat it, she was served it until it was gone, and she was taught to respect the poorer girls in her class, and it was her tuition and the tuition of the other rich girls paying for the poorer girls, and then in the sort of strange way of her family, she was sent to a fans siblings finishing school in boston. there she was taught to dance well, to become a witty conversationalist, and she became a striking young woman, and in 1854, she had her debut in new york, and she came back
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here a few years later. nothing could outdo the flurry of excitement hetty encountered when she returned to new york in the fall of 1860 #. the city shimmered with news that the prince of wales was visiting. in his honor, a group of leading citizens was organizing a ball. society men trimmed their mustaches, clipped their whiskers. women twisted their curls, and at 9 p.m., the evening of friday, october 12th, excited couples who paid $10 a piece, arrived at the academy of music on irving place. men in suits and tails, and women in a blaze of jewels gave aren't we special nods to
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acquaintances and friends. the orchestra played "god save the queen," and the slight small prince stepped into the room. for two hours, nearly 3,000 of new york's finest citizens rushed like schoolgirls to meet him, and in the mad crush, the wooden floor collapsed. [laughter] nevermind, no one was hurt. [laughter] the band played, the guests rushed to follow, and delivery waiters piled plates with filet of beef, lobster salad, patee, and filled glasses with champaigne. at 2 a.m., the dance floor fixed, strains could be heard, and eager females, young and old, waited their turn for a dance, and timely, the young woman from new bedford was tapped.
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stunning in her low cut white gown, arms covered in glove, and feathers, hetty was introduced to the finest, the prince of wales. and i am the princess of wales she replied. [laughter] all daughters are beautiful, and you are proof of that, and he sailed her away on the dance floor. well, it was not the prince who courted her. it was a fellow named edward green who was over six feet tall and over 200 pounds in weight, and a self-made millionaire. he asked hetty to marry him, and her father greed to it on one condition, that edward sign a prenup that they would live on edward's money, and hetty's
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money would be hers to protect and increase and to pass on to the next generation. shortly after that, her father died. he left her a million dollars. the rest of his estate, $5 million -- remember, this was 1865. $5 million he put in a trust for her, which hurt her deeply. she expected to be able to control her own money. two weeks later, her aunt died. hetty was the only heir to the family wealth, and the aunt agreed to a will in which she would leave all the money, $2 million, to hetty, but instead she left half to the town new bedford and her friends and the other half to hetty.
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she was furious. she sued. the lawsuit went on for years. it was a landmark case, and hetty became leety gas for life. they married, and went to england to live. he sold railroad bonds in the days of the boom in the railroads. she gave birth to two children, a son and a daughter, and she invested her money in railroad bonds and green backs, and she boasted that in one day she made $200,000. europe was booming. banks were loaning easy money at low interest rates. real estate prices were rises, and investors were buying american bonds because they were
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paying high interest rates, but the prices for land and houses in europe became so high that they had -- they had reached the level where no one could afford them anymore. no one could pay those prices, and so the markets started falling, and then they couldn't buy the bonds, and so they started selling them. 80% of american railroad bonds at the time were owned by europeans. one of the great american railroads then went into bankruptcy, and the bank that was funding it had to close. there were no more customers for the railroad bonds, and hetty and edward had to come back to america, and they came back to new york. the city had burgeoned in the boom years. ten story buildings on the
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horizon, and central park stretched north as far as 80th street. expensive brown stone houses replaced the shanties along 5th avenue, and apartment houses appeared for the first time. there was the largest bookstore opened in the world, and st. patrick's touched the sky, and the metropolitan museum of art opened as well as the museum of natural history. the exuberant spending that once more infected new york was no different from the unfettered caption fed by -- expanse fed by entrepreneurs, promoters, and real estate speculators in the midwest and the west. by the autumn of 18 # 73, the financial panic broke the bubble of hope and flattened the country into dispair. that sound familiar? [laughter] new york jittered as stocks
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bounced up and down. on wall street, men in coats, ties, and silk hats stunned by the losses moved in a daze. only a few months before, they walked briskly, the stove pipes bulging, and now they held on to the hats and worried over their jobs. even lawyers found themselves unemployed. shortly after hetty arrived, she dawned a cloak, stuffed the bag with stocks and bonds, and rode downtown to see her banker. head down, she made her way along the route of the riches, past the custom house, past the buildings, past the shutter doors of the bankers j. cook. at 59 wall street, she entered the officers of john sisco. the banker for herself, her father before, and her husband.
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he made services available for her, wall street business. at this time, when stocks were being abandoned, hetty wanted to trade. i believe in getting in at the bottom and out at the top, she often said. [laughter] when i see a good thing going cheap because nobody wants it, i buy a lot of it and tuck it away. for hetty the decline at the market offered an opportunity for the future. hetty invested. her husband gambled, and at one point, he crossed the red line when he used her money as collateral for bad risks. when she had to pay for his mistakes, she sent him packing. [laughter]
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hetty was now a single working mother with two children. at the time, there were constant articles about how inferior women were, about how inend women were with money, about how innately impossible it was for them to invest. there were articles about hetty about how she was mean, about how she was a terrible mother. well, in true quaker and true new inland style, she watched her pennys, to an extreme. she lived in boarding houses and plain apartments. she dressed in old clothes, ate simply, but she taught her son and daughter as much as she could about business. she believed that girls should know about business and finance at the very least to be better wise, but also thought they have to know about having careers,
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even if they didn't need one. she believed that women were the equal of any man. well, for the next 25 years, america had its ups and downs. there were booms and then in 1893 there was a bust. after a long recession, there was a great boom. in 1907, there was a great bust. every time it happened, it was caused by greed and by ego, by over lending and over spending. as warren buffet said recently, a climate of fear is an investor's best friend. [laughter] hetty was brave. she was courageous. she always kept a cool head. she worked hard. she did her homework. she knew her companies. when everyone in the boat jumped
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over board, she claimed in and grabbed the oars, and when everybody rushed to row, she clammored off the boat. it took courage, but she bought when everyone sold, and she sold when everyone was buying. by the time she died in 1916, she owned mortgages on 28 churches in chicago, and she owned houses and office buildings, big blocks, and mines from vermont to new york, from illinois to missouri to texas to california. she helped out banks when times were bad, and they were in trouble. she was the largest individual lender to new york city government. she lived in the guilded age when society lived ravishly, but she rebelled against it. she lived in simple life.
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she loved her children and friends. she was weary of those who befriended her for her money. she showedded her dog great affection, and when she was asked why, she said because he doesn't know how rich i am. [laughter] she lived her life as she deemed best. she forged the path for women to have business careers and be mothers, and through her clever investing, she showed women were the equal of any man. at her death, newspapers around the world, around the world, proclaimed her the queen of wall street, and it was known throughout that she was the richest woman in america. there are lots of sayings in the back of the book, her words of wisdom that i think are great follow-up. she did have a goodceps of humor, and she was one smart lady. if you have any questions, i'd
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love to try to answer. yes? >> do you have evidence of her for the women's right to vote? >> none, none. she said women should not have the right to vote. it's interesting because i have found that with a lot -- many humanly successful women like gertrude bell who i wrote about in "desert queen" didn't believe it in. margaret thatcher didn't believe in it. it's interesting. they wanted to make their way in a man's world almost or they felt women should be doing it on their own. >> i hate to generalize, but i think women are their own worst enemies for other women because there is a glass ceiling as we all know. >> right. >> and when you get into a situation where you need mentoring or help to get through
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a certain barrier -- >> right. >> it was there. women like to keep it to themselves. >> yeah. i think they love being successful in a man's world. it makes them really special. >> if she was so extraordinary, how come we didn't hear of her? >> she was so famous in her day, there were songs about her, plays written about her. she was in the newspapers at least once a week, and often more. she had two children as i mentioned, but no grandchildren. there were no more heirs and so her name disappeared. there were no buildings named after her, no great institutions that carried her name, and i think that that's why it happened, but i have come across many people who have heard of her whose parents said, oh, don't be like hetty green or be
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like hetty green. [laughter] yes? >> what happened to her wealth? >> well, it went to her son and daughter, and then when they died, it was districted amongst hundreds of heirs because that was the original plan if there were no more heirs, it would go to the -- be spread around the family. distant cousins who didn't even know they were related to her, and her name, when she was born, was hetty rolands robertson. they were a big family in new england. that's where it went. >> her children were not famous? >> her son was quite well known. he was -- she asked him to buy a small branch of a bankrupt railroad in texas in the 1890s,
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and he turned it into the most successful small railroad, the texas midland railroad, in the state, and then he did a number of things like going back to new bedford, built a brand new house on the family property, and turned that into a center for radio technology and meteorology, gave it to the united states government during world war ii, and so he was dn he had one of the greatest collection of coins and stamps. he really made a mark for himself. yeah? >> one of the things that strikes me about the guilded age and the wealth is that there were a lot of wealthy people who believed in giving back to society like app drew carnegie. did she donate money to public service? >> she never did it publicly.
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she would dismiss any suggestion that she had, but then her son said and others had said, that there were -- there were plenty of places she gave to or people she gave to. she never wanted it known. she felt she was hounded for her money, constantly getting letters besieging her. she tried to keep it as quiet as possible, and there's no proof. there's no proof. because other people said it at the time -- she had a very close friend who lived in the neighborhood here who was a catholic, great catholic my philanthropist, but that's how generous she was, and i think she got hetty to give money to the church, yeah, yeah. >> how hard was it to research? >> well, it was difficult because there were no diaries.
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there were no journals. there was no correspondence. she didn't want any trace of her signature because she was accused in that lawsuit against her aunt's estate, accused of forging her aunt's signature, and so she was always afraid that someone would forming -- forge her signature. there was very little to go on. what i did read was a billion newspapers. there were constantly stories about her in the papers and interviews with her. interestingly enough, most of the headlines were negative, but the reporters who spent time with her really appreciated her, admired her, enjoyed her company so that was rewarding to see that. the stories are syndicated all over the united states and all over the world.
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yes? >> how long? >> about five years, yeah, uh-huh, all together. well, thank you. >> thank you. [applause] for more information, visit the author's website. >> the targets of the drug war are the wrong target was the lesson for me as a journalist. i send all praise to law enforcement. i think law enforcement on all levels is out there to serve and protect and help us, and the ones i've met on all levels in the course of the research for the book were generally good people. some believed in the tasks and realized it is a job, spending taxpayer money, but nonetheless, people trying to do their job so the problem is not law enforcement, but we need to turn off the tap, the $9 million in domestic going to so-called
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enforcement. there's been no effect on supply and demand. no news to anybody in the room, but the wider american mainstream is waking up. i live in a knocks where the ladies in the post office believe president obama was born in libya. when i tell them about the book and say it's a social analysis why the end of the drug war would be good for america, without fail, the response is oh, yeah, the tragedies in mexico, when is it going to end? it's not that dangerous compared to the pill and the meth. left wing, the right wing, evangelists for crying out loud. the truth is black and white. it's dangerous for me to sound like a cheerleader about any particular issue because people think i'm, you know, cheech or woody harrellson, but the real estate is from a journalist tick
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perspective, it's black and white, the billions that can be put back in the economy while hurting the cartels. i know they would know that the statistic that's cited, profits could be high, but the fact is quite a lot of organized crimes financing is not from the heroin and meth, but cannabis. we can have american farmers growing this, taxing it, and put narks back to work. their agricultural commissioner is begging to put it back to work for america's factories, clothing, and energy. i went to a stainability festival a few years ago, and the other speaker was usda expert on by -- biofuels. there's one that filters toxics out of soil.

Book TV
CSPAN October 14, 2012 8:30pm-9:00pm EDT

Janet Wallach Education. (2012) 'The Richest Woman In America Hetty Green In the Guilded Age.'

TOPIC FREQUENCY America 6, New York 6, Us 3, Edward 3, Wales 3, New Bedford 3, Hatty 2, Europe 2, New England 2, Hetty 2, Texas 2, John Sisco 1, Patrick 1, Champaigne 1, Woody Harrellson 1, Brown 1, Abraham Lincoln 1, The Texas Midland Railroad 1, A.m. 1, Quakers 1
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